Friday 28 June 2013

The David Gemmell Legend Awards

It takes 3 clicks 
ii) beside the book you want to win
iii) at the bottom of that page on the 'vote' button

So, the David Gemmell Awards are the only awards I bother to mention. 

And I mention them because I approve of the public vote, and because I support them as a memorial to David Gemmell who is one of my favorite fantasy authors, was a very interesting man, and died too young.


                                                                      ... the prize is a big fuck-off axe. Even the finalists get little big fuck-off axes. How cool is that? Actually, scratch the '?' - it's cool.

So, King of Thorns is listed, but cunningly did not appear on the list until nearly a week after the big burst of launch publicity for this year's award. So we're playing it hardcore this year - who needs those early-bird votes? Right?

Now in case you're thinking 'Mark doesn't really need my support', last year in the Gemmell Morningstar Award...

So I clearly have a lot to learn about getting the vote out!

Also - there are some huge names on the Legend Award list which is open to everyone (the Morningstar Award is for debuts).

So - three clicks is all it takes:

ii) beside the book you want to win
iii) at the bottom of that page on the 'vote' button


Tuesday 25 June 2013

We don't need another hero?

Actually I’ve nothing against heroes. I’m happy to read fantasy books with a cool heroes putting down the smack on the bad guys. I grew up on that stuff. Obviously I want it well written, with intelligence and passion, but if it can be boiled down to ‘good guy smacks bad guy’, no problem.

However – let’s be clear about this. Fantasy is defined by being free and open. It contains elements of the fantastic. The imagination of both author and reader is unbound. That’s fantasy. There’s nothing on the box that says ‘hero required’.

I read a lot of non-fantasy books.  Actually, that’s a lie – I get very little time to read these days. In the past I have read a lot of non-fantasy books. Books that are about people rather than heroes. Books that have protagonists. The main characters in the catch-all that is ‘literary fiction’ are often just ordinary people going through the struggle of their lives, and we get caught up in their stories, hooked by the same fascination that attracts so many people to soap operas, combined with the beauty of the writing, and the deeper observations that the author is attempting to make, the deeper truths they try to approach.

Although fantasy can be as broad as literary fiction, but with the added goodness of being able to step outside any boundary reality imposes... actually it's a much more limited genre in many respects, straitjacketed by expectation.

Reaction to Prince of Thorns, and specifically the protagonist, Jorg Ancrath,  often runs thusly:

Call this a hero? I can’t get behind a hero who does XXXX or YYYY. What were you thinking, Lawrence?


This author desperately wants me to like Jorg and approve of his actions. I however am built of finer stuff and my moral fiber will not allow me to support such a character.

Some are less reactionary and simply file Jorg under ‘antihero’.       

However, I don’t think Jorg is a hero, anti-hero, or villain. He is, for want of a better description, a person. I didn’t set out to make the reader like him and I certainly don’t expect the reader to approve of his actions. My only goal was that the story about him be interesting and make the reader care.

Traditional anti-heroes in my experience fall into two categories. There are the every-man types, ill-suited to the heroic roles thrust upon them – Frodo would fall into this group. And there are the pragmatic, sly, or cowardly ones, often saved from the reader’s dislike by their charisma and wit, or by the comedic value of their failures, perhaps we might cite Vance's Cugel the Clever or GRRM's Tyrion here.

Jorg confuses some by straddling the categories. On the one hand he won’t back down and is fearless and dangerous – traditional hero characteristics. On the other hand he is sly and charismatic – traditional antihero characteristics. Add to that the fact that he has no interest in doing good, and is happy to murder his way toward his self-serving goals – traditional villain characteristics.

I think Jorg could be described as all of them. What Jorg certainly is not is ordinary. He’s a prodigy, extremely intelligent and creative, old beyond his years, charming, a very skilled swordsman. Yes he has failings – anger control issues, a lack of scruples, a poor singing voice, an inability to compromise, lack of empathy, but he is in the traditional fantasy vein, someone extraordinary.

In my next book the main protagonist fits the anti-hero mold more closely, swapping a measure of angst for less conflicted greed, and replacing skill with bluster. He’s a man out of control of his destiny, whose goals are small and decadent ones that he tries to snatch at as the world sweeps him along.

I don’t feel however that the character is less original. The ability to fit a character into a broad category doesn’t by necessity rob the reader of any enjoyment. They say the devil is in the detail. But then again, so is all the good stuff. I’ll do my best to get that right and hope you enjoy where it takes us!

Monday 24 June 2013

Sleeping Beauty

Because I love you, and all that stuff, I've written a Jorg-based short story and you can read it on the Voyager site totally free, for nothing, without charge.

It's really a bit of fun, prompted by a challenge from one Ron C. Nieto (@RonCNieto) to warp the tale of Sleeping Beauty around that of young Jorg Ancrath. I may have thrown another fairy tale or two into the mix...

The story can be fitted in between the two threads in Emperor of Thorns (or indeed King of Thorns)... if you like.

Get the story on the Voyager site HERE

Sunday 23 June 2013

The Broken Empire Time-Lines

So I've made a graphic for the time-lines across the three books of the Broken Empire trilogy. For the ultra-purist it's possible these might be considered spoilery in some way and so I show below a link to a recent blog I did on the Voyager website about finishing the trilogy.

Hopefully this will create some spoiler space in case you don't want to see the time-lines.

My Voyager blog-post can be found HERE

And the time-lines across all three books are shown below:

Jorg's age is along the vertical.

Friday 21 June 2013

The Emperor of Thorns raffle concludes!

A huge thanks to the 42 contributors who between them donated $3129 to the Children's Hospice South West charity.

They do a fabulous job for hundreds of families and children in very bad circumstances and provide a real life-line. I can't post photos of the kids you've helped but here's a shot from just outside Celyn's room on our recent stay and below that Celyn out and about.

In addition to providing respite for families with life-limited and terminally ill children the hospice provide the best possible end of life care.

In short - your money will be well spent. Feel good about what you've done!

So, without further ado...

...the winner is Mr Rosco Schock and the selection process is on video below.

Rosco scoops the lot with a donation in excess of $60!

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Another book, many covers!

Select your favorite Prince of Thorns cover
vote on the poll linked below

Key:                 Czech        French
                         German     Italian
                         Polish         Dutch
                         US              UK(hc)
                         UK(pb)      Thai

Vote:                             here

Monday 17 June 2013

One book, many covers.

German      Dutch
UK hc        UK pb
French        Polish
    US              US audio

Which is best?

Saturday 8 June 2013

The Stupidly Huge Give-Away entries!

Read about the contest here.

See how the voting stands here.

The Stupidly Huge Give-Away entries:

If you are going to vote in this competition (from the 8th to 13 July) you can do so in the comments section of this page (if you already follow the blog), or on twitter (if you already follow me), or on facebook (if you are already a friend or have already 'liked' the Prince of Thorns page. You're welcome to express your opinion in any of those places but your vote will only count under the circumstances laid out.

If you're voting please at least start the text entries and video entries. Some are superb. They take a great deal of effort and can be overlooked if you're scrolling down judging the best pictures.

To vote just give me the best 5 entries (best first)


#1 (Ryan T) - A promo poster for the movie.

#2 (Andrea H.)  Jorg Ancrath's crest of arms!

#3 (Tristan B)  Book Tower! (& possible injury sustain in earlier tower collapse?)

#4 (Terry R)  Jorg in action!

#5 (Dusty W)  A Game of Thorns?

#6 (Rae L)  Book Fortress and Book Tower

#7 (Pamela S)  A Jorg fan-fic

He’d found a similar cavern in the past, particularly in this part of what he now realised was a ruined city. It was like the other but more of it appeared to have survived, buried under haphazard piles of stone. No not stone..., but the chalky white substance only the builders has used. 

He decided it could be walked through, and after allowing a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the darkness stepped cautiously down into the craggy opening. His booted feet were surprisingly loud on the strangely echoing floors, the rubble from the partially collapsed ceiling hiding what appeared to be silent ranks of empty shelves. 

He turned suddenly, not quite knowing why. What had he seen? Staring off into the gloom, there it was again, a red light, its rotating beam reflecting weakly off the nearest wall. It was too regular to be natural. He approached it cautiously, his sword drawn. As he moved closer he could hear a sound echoing away, barely perceptible above the crunching of his feet on the rubble strewn floor. 

He stopped again, not quite trusting his senses, was he alone? It was a voice, a human voice, was there a body it belonged to? He paused, his instinct for survival making him wary, but it was no match for his curiosity. Something reminded him of the other strange machines he had found, the builder’s machines. It was undoubtedly one of their creations. He was more eager now, keen to see what magic this one would bring.

Edging around the pile of rubble partly covering the machine, he tilted his head towards the object, the voice sounded muffled, but it was recognisably a woman’s voice. He could glimpse a crack of whiter light, seeping through a gap between two of the large builders beams that had fallen onto the machine. He was still staring at it when the voice returned and he gripped his sword tighter. ……unexpected item in the bagging area….”,  silence, then once more. 

Welcome to Tescos, Jorg! 

#8 (Awale A)  An homage piece inspired by a certain Prince/King of our acquaintance

In a field wet with the blood of many; a soldier races toward me and I give him the point of my sword. They say a fraction of your soul dies when you kill a man... I feel the whole of it come alive and for one russet painted moment I covet it, I latch onto the glint of life in me. Life born of the death that killed me. Another rushes in after him and I slash him down like his peer; he hits the ground the same way my daughter did when the villagers held me and made me watch as her and my wife left the world and now I'll send the remaining two men off to commune with their comrades. I say men but they are mere boys, barely having seen seventeen summers but bugger it. I didn't tell them to fight, to aid my cousin and his blasted rebellion and I'm sure he didn't tell them either. As I swing around the shorter one's spear and slit his wiry throat, I know full well that my cousin didn't ask; he just shoved a spear into this poor boy's hand and told him to die or march. Poor lad figured he had a chance with the march but he didn't and neither does his fellow soldier. Slash! And entrails meet the ground, decorating it with layers of white, blue, yellow and red. 

I am a monster. No! I am empty, the man inside died with my wife and child and now all I have is the dance that took them from me, a dance of politics, power and death. They died because my cousin paid a bunch of maggots to do so; they died so he could watch as I lost my heir and love. Would've killed me if my gift hadn't awoken, I burned them well and good, a burn for ever drop of blood my wife and child parted with. I will burn the world, I will dance and fill the hole within with the deaths of soldiers and kings alike and one day my cousin will join their ranks and perhaps then my blood lust will finally be sated. Perhaps then I will finally feel something outside of a battlefield and sense a heartbeat outside of a moment where I rob a foe of their existence. 

#10 (Joseph J)  Book tower! Apparently it toppled against the wall as Prince of Thorns was placed on the top.

#11 (Andrew C)  Time for the next book!

#12 (Jannick V)    Jorg's Lullaby

Jorg’s Lullaby (Roses & Steel Thorns)

Hear the distant sound of thunder
It’s the land ripping apart
Let my reflection in the moonlight
Put the fear into your heart

You destroyed something so precious
Now I’ll take back what is mine
You really changed me for the better
Now I fear hate nor crime

Don’t come too close // Cause you might bleed
Don’t step too far // Cause you might not see

Chorus: Everywhere you go I’m always right behind
                 I’m in the shadows of your past
                 You ripped it all away and left me with one goal
                 Destruction, fire, vengeance they will last
                 You cannot hide away all safety is forlorn
                 You’d do well to remember this
                 You don’t need a rose to feel the thorns
                 No lover to receive the final kiss

Listen to the steady hoofbeats
One too many in the pack
Search your friend for the raven
Fear the sword, protect your back

Take it from me don’t sleep too tight
For the darkness reveals its teeth
I’m no bed bug but I do bite
Would you like it hard when we meet?

Don’t come too close // Cause you might bleed
Don’t step too far // Cause you might not see


I’ll be the shadow that is haunting you
I’ll be the demon without horns
I am the reason you will breathe no more
I am the little rose with steel thorns


Everywhere you go I’m always right behind
I’m in the shadows of your past
You ripped it all away and left me with one goal
Destruction, fire, vengeance they will last
You cannot hide away all safety is forlorn
You’d do well to remember this
You don’t need a rose to feel the thorns
Let me give you your final kiss

You are human
I’m a god
I will survive it all
You will not

© Jannick Verleysen (2013) 

#13 (Sebastian P)  A Pyramid of Books (Where Darkened Clouds Roll x lots!)

#15  (Robin C)  Granddaughter in training to join the Brothers

Here as Jorg?

And perhaps working on her Rike-atude? 

#16  (Rebecca L)  Don't just go to bed with a good book, go to bed on good books!

#17  (Wout S)                     Art Deco style poster for Jorg - the movie?

#18  (Grace L)  A trailer for the Broken Empire movie?

#19  (William W)  A hat-full of Jorgisms

"The world is full of things we can’t have. For me, Katherine is one of them."

"Lao Tzu once implied it’s best to have few desires. If I had to pick one, just one desire, then it would be to fit the Hundred into One."

"Ghandi once said there is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed. But no world is big enough to quench my needs."

 "Many are born to be ruled. I am not one of them."

 "Some say sleep is the best sort of peace. I’ve never cared much for dreams. For me, it’s the killing that takes the edge off."

"I’ve killed more men than any human has a right. Add the women and children to the mix, and I’m no longer human."

"The best way to burn your enemies is with a Builder’s Sun. But hate burns hot as any fire, and in me is a fire yearning to raze the world."

#20  (Ryan J)  A Screen-shot of Jorg's web browser!

#21  (Lynn W)               Jorg's big secret - the reveal!

#22  (Agnes M)  A Jorg fan-fic

Sometimes, as life happens, you might meet someone special who will change your life for ever. Someone you believe in and follow to the end of the world, if need to be. Prince Jorg was a truly inspirational leader to follow. Even if you knew very well that he was likely to lead you to your own death and beyond.

Four years earlier

It was a bright summer afternoon when I finally caught sight of them in the lively marketplace of Jaseth.  Just as well. I have already crossed two borders while chasing after them from the Tall Castle and had all the intentions to catch up with them before they crossed over to the even more dangerous lands of Adora. The prince was inspecting the goods of a stall which had a wide selection of knives on display. He had a tall, black warrior standing on his right, with a huge crossbow over one shoulder and a ginger-haired, twitchy fellow on his left, who seemed to be lecturing him about something in great length. Prince Jorg looked a little displeased with something, but seemed otherwise unharmed from this distance. I examined his young face, which even with that clear resemblance of his father’s eyes looked so innocent. He had Cyriell’s lovely face, fine and elegant, with those high cheekbones, almost angelic to look at.  Queen Cyriell, I had to remind myself with a lurch in my heart and felt my eyes filling up as the horrific visions of her broken body all came rushing back.  A sudden, bright glint brought me back to reality as the sun fell on a swiftly rising blade. My legs were already in motion speeding me forward even before I realised what I just saw.

‘Feeling brave, Brother Gemt?’ asked the young heir of the Ancraths in a calm voice with a sword pointing at his neck.

‘I take your fecking tongue out you little piece of shit’ responded the redhead, whose face now also matched the colour of a spectacularly vibrant rosebush.

‘There is no need for this Brother Gemt’ boomed the Nuban’s deep voice from nearby.

‘There is every need. It was time this little cocky bastard finally learned his place. I will teach him a lesson now!

‘I’m all for education! And a good right feint will serve you better in times of trouble than any amount of book learning’ I grinned behind him with my left hand holding a knife to his throat and offering the Ancrath’s family sword to the prince with my right.

He looked at me wide-eyed, as if seeing a ghost, but to his credit recovered quickly and took the sword from my hand, taking a few steps back. I lowered the knife down slowly, but grabbed the hilt of my own sword, ready to intervene.

‘Do you need some help, Brother Gemt? You are looking a little fragile there!’ shouted a bulky, scarred-faced man and followed it up with a strange laugh. The laugh echoed all around us as members of a closely connected clan were closing the circle around the spectacle. Some of them were making bets as I looked across and found the eyes of the Nuban. His dark eyes mirrored my own feelings and I knew it then and there that for whatever reason, he also cared for the boy. This was an unexpected blessing as I still had no clear plans as how to rescue the heir and steal him back home. I could really use as much help as there can be if I wanted to succeed. I looked back at Jorg, but he seemed fine. In fact, he seemed more, than fine. He disarmed his opponent with a few tactful moves and was dangerously closing on him.

‘Teaching me a lesson, Brother Gemt? How would you like some feedback from your favourite student on your lecturing then?’ he asked in a pleasant voice, hands ready to deliver a final blow.

‘A good swordsman knows when the game has already been won, Jorg. Let him go.’ I said as I started walking towards him.

‘It’s not a game. This is real life, where you don’t play by the rules, Sir Makin’. Even if I heard these words before, I was taken aback by the chillness in his voice. He seemed different for a moment. There was a dark, steely shadow looming behind those innocent eyes. A shadow of the man he will become.

‘Prince…” my lips started forming the word soundlessly in my utter astonishment. He gave me a warning look that stopped me in my tracks. Then slowly something slightly softened in his gaze.

‘Brother Gemt.’ He called to the man shivering on the ground in front of him with the sword pointing at his chest. ‘Look at this man very carefully. He will be accompanying us on our little journey. And you will be his very own personal servant for a month in order to show your most devoted gratitude for your sorry little life.’ He turned to me and gave me a lopsided smile.

‘Brother Makin, welcome to our little family. I hope you are ready to undertake some exciting adventures with us. My brothers and I do like living a high life, but I can promise you this: you will never ever feel again that we are just playing games here.’ 

#23  (Jason (&Mrs) Z)       Reading in an interesting location!

#24  (Sonera A)       Jorg and Katherine!

 My Choice, My Evil.

You can call me Lady.

#25  (Nadine K)       Jorg Catalogue!

This is a pdf file that you can link to by clicking HERE

It's well worth a look - very funny.

Here are a couple of highlights:

#26  (Yasmeen T)       Jorg and Sageous

#27  (Nathan W)       Redesigned Cover

#28  (Kathleen M)       Science or Art?

#29  (Jahan V)       Mini-Jorg, a miniature figure homage!

#30  (Agnes M)      
Agnes: Just relax, I will be in charge today.
Jorg: Right, but can I at least have the TV remote back now, my beautiful princess?

#31  (Hilary T)       The Broken Empire Shelf - ready and waiting for more!

#32  (Jacob H)       Honorous

#33  (The Fat Lady)       A musical tribute followed by a musical book review!

Here again blogger won't let me embed the video but this is a youtube link you can & should follow :D

Example frame:

Very funny though even I felt I'd seen enough of my face before the end of it :)

#34  (Peter HV)       A video advert for Thorns Beer! (complete with blooper reel)

#35  (Sam K)       Bringing a gun to a sword fight.

#36  (Kirstin K)       Three Jorg Haikus!

concrete wasteland prince
scarred by thorns inside and out
ruthless bandit Jorg

death follows his wake
throne and vengeance within reach
troops follow king Jorg

broken empire ruled
trapped in thorns he chose himself
fear the rule of Jorg

#37  (Freya M)       Winx Enchantrix Faries reading Prince and King of Thorns at LFCC